Circular fashion: Social enterprise DolceVee sells Deepika, Anushka and Varun’s outfits at 70% the retail price
Bollywood celebrities and social media influencers are often trendsetters, inspiring fans and fashion junkies alike with the coolest styles and accessories. What if we could have the same clothes as Deepika Padukone, Varun Dhawan and Tapsee Pannu? By same I mean the exact pieces they wore in that Instagram click you double-tapped at least three times?
As online thrifting becomes cooler by the day, DolceVee, an online thrift store, brings you amazing dresses of all your favourite actors, models and influencers hand-picked by the celebrities themselves. DolceVee’s mantra is simple – pre-loved clothing is the path towards a circular economy. DolceVee is a social initiative by the founders of SaltScout, a conscious shopping social enterprise, and kicked off earlier in May this year.
Ivorystation spoke with Komal Hiranandani, founder of DolceVee and SaltScout on the behind-the-scenes of thrifting celebrity closets and how sustainable pre-loved fashion is.
Here is an excerpt:
What is the philosophy behind DolceVee?
DolceVee is a pre-loved thrift store where you have fun fashion, which is lighter on your pocket and kinder to the environment. The future of fashion is circular, and the sharing economy is here to stay. If we all can open our hearts and closets to pre-loved, it can have a huge positive impact on the planet, and it is really a win-win situation everywhere.
We launched DolceVee with India’s first clothing Environmental Footprint Calculator with Bhumi Pednekar. What that means is that for each piece of clothing, we calculate the litres of water and kgs of carbon saved by buying that piece as compared to a newly manufactured one. It is a very powerful tool for, both, buyers and suppliers of clothing to understand the benefit of choosing pre-loved, encouraging more people to participate in the circular economy.
How did you start DolceVee?
Now is the time more than ever that we need to embrace sustainable ways of living. I think we have all realised how interconnected we all are. So embracing new sustainable ways was very important for us. We started DolceVee as a continuation of everything we have done through our brand SaltScout. Since 2018, we have organised pop-up charity sales of celebrity closets. We are really fortunate to see Bollywood really leading the way. So, we started DolceVee by building on our work which we did with celebrity closets. We cater to mass-market fashion as well. People like you and me give their pieces and we sell them.
How does your background influence the brand?
I have only ever been involved in the development sector. I was 12 years old was when I first started volunteering at an NGO. Since then, everything I have done has been connected to the development sector. I have a background in research and economics. Even when I worked as an economist, my work was always focused on development economics. DolceVee is a social enterprise, and we are very much motivated by the environmental imperative. I have seen through my work that there are very few ways in which an individual can make a small change that can have a huge positive impact, and pre-loved shopping is really empowering because it is something that all of us can easily do.
Komal Hiranandani (left) with a team member
What kind of audience do you usually cater to?
I have been very pleasantly surprised by the diversity of audiences on our platform. We mostly have females between the ages of 18 to 35 years. But that said, we get students living in dorms, we get women in their fifties and sixties from throughout India and from towns I have never heard of. When we look them up, they are more like villages than cities. Our men’s and kids’ clothing are also doing well.
DolceVee is collaborating with many NGOs. How does that tie in with thrifting?
Right now, the clothes that we receive are clothes that are donated by people. Whoever donates the clothes gets to choose which charity benefits from the sale. We will work to find an NGO which is close to your heart. Apart from religious and political party-affiliated NGOs, we are open to work in any cause that our donors are passionate about.
How do you collaborate with celebrities for your thrift finds?
It’s something that has grown organically, and the leadership has come from them (celebrities). They have clothing that they are able to part with and want to circulate. Instead of just giving it away, they are seeking out ways to make something good come out of it for the world. Very often, not just celebrities but everyone who gives us clothes tells us that they want it to go to someone who will appreciate the value of it, even if it is a designer piece or a high-street brand. You can, of course, donate directly to an NGO. We at DolceVee also do that. But sometimes, the money coming from selling the clothes is what the NGO needs more than the clothes themselves, depending on which NGO you are looking at. This is a very attractive proposition for them (celebrities), and it’s really them who are spearheading this.
Get Taapsee Pannu’s closet here
How difficult or easy is it to source celebrity closets?
When we started, we were very uncertain. This is not something that you can generate supply for on your own. You cannot create pre-loved clothes. We were very sure that it’s a market that could be built, but it is all about building it in the right way. We gave ourselves 6 months and saw how it went. Once we were able to gain an audience and explain the value proposition, then converting people to supply and retaining them to be regular suppliers has actually not been difficult at all. Especially with our DolceVee Environment Footprint Calculator, every supplier gets a digital certificate stating the amount of water and carbon saved by putting the garment back in the circular fashion system. These things really help people appreciate why it is important.
Get Anushka Sharma’s swimsuit here
How can one donate to DolceVee?
We take care of everything end-to-end. You just need to tell us when to pick up the pieces, wherever you are in the country. We will pick it up and take care of everything else. For buyers, we have a very wide range of things available. We are always growing our stock, and new pieces are added daily. You can get the fashion you are looking for, and the price is, on average, at a 70 per cent discount of retail price year-round. It’s, of course, a win for our planet. That’s where we begin our story, and that’s what keeps us going.
How do you manage to slash prices at such huge discounts?
This (DolceVee) is not something that we are really making money from. We are hoping over time that our margins can be positive. This is very much a social initiative for us, and it’s something that we feel we need to do to make the shopping experience as best as possible for our customers.
What is the business strategy of DolceVee?
We started with celebrity closets, and we thought that that was important to make the market aware of this. To get the leading fashion icons talking about why pre-loved is important and showing how awesome pre-loved can be is a very powerful thing. Then we transitioned into doing other influencers, celebrities and mass-market clothing as well. As we grow, the mass market will continue to be a growing percentage of our overall sales. Right now we are working very hard to increase our production capacity because supply has been great. But what we sell is just how many pieces we can process. We know that when we process more, we can sell a lot more. That’s our focus right now.
Get Shilpa Shetty Kundra’s outfit here
Which celebrities and collections can we see next on DolceVee?
We always let the celebrities be the first ones to put it out there in the world. But every week, we have new celebrities and influencers. The Deepika Padukone closet happens almost monthly. Other celebrities are always in the pipeline. In the coming month, we have two very exciting leading Bollywood fashion stylists. Those collections are just fabulous! These are stylists’ closets and they know how to pick up fabulous finds, and when they share some of that, it’s just beautiful.
Stylists’ closets and celebrity closets sound very luxurious. What does new-age luxury mean to you?
I think luxury is a feeling. We have seen this throughout DolceVee. It’s not what you buy, but about how you appreciate it. That has been the most gratifying thing. Even if someone had bought something for Rs400, every time they wear that… they feel good about themselves. I mean, what greater luxury is there than happiness.
Thrifting and selling pre-loved clothing comes with its own challenges. What are some problems that you face?
It is a new market. We are working to build it. The newer generation is very, very open to the sharing circular economy. But we find that sometimes the demographic of, say, 28 years old needs to be introduced to this concept in a couple of different ways, but it is not a generalisation. But we are definitely more focused on creating more acceptance and excitement in the market.
But honestly, the biggest challenge for us is logistics. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes, from the time we pick up the clothes to the time the customer receives them, looking great and smelling great in their shipping package.
Image courtesy: DolceVee
Apart from thrifting, what are some environmentally friendly habits one can adopt?
The ultimate way to being kinder to the environment is to just use what you have and try not to get new things. One thing that we always focus on, even on our social media, is to try to inspire people about different ways they can use the same thing. I am not from a fashion background and don’t have the creativity to imagine different ways of upcycling; it is something that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. But exposing yourself to content on social media on upcycling different clothing is important.
Skip the trip to the mall this weekend, check out celebrity closets and thrift finds from DolceVee here, and do planet earth a favour.
By Tanushi Bhatnagar
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